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Thread: Immigrants needed as fertility rate dips further: MM

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    Default Immigrants needed as fertility rate dips further: MM

    by Leong Weng Kam & Teo Wan Gek (The Straits Times, 19 January 2011)

    THE fertility rate for Singapore Chinese - already the lowest among all races here - slid to 1.02 last year from 1.08 in 2009, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew disclosed last night.

    Singapore thus needs to remain open to new immigrants, and groups like the clan associations have an important role to play in helping them integrate, he said.

    Mr Lee raised the pressing problem of Singapore's declining birth rate during a dialogue he held with Chinese clan leaders at a gala dinner marking the 25th anniversary of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA), an umbrella body for more than 200 clan groups.

    His comments came a day after Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng revealed that Singapore's total fertility rate (TFR) sank to a historic low of 1.16 last year, down from 1.22 in 2009, and way below the replacement level of 2.1.

    The low TFR - although a preliminary estimate - remains an issue of concern, with Mr Lee noting last night that 'at these low birth rates, we will rapidly age and shrink'.

    TFR measures the average number of children a woman would bear in her lifetime - in this case, a woman resident in Singapore.

    A low TFR is found not only among Chinese residents here. Preliminary data for last year shows that it was 1.65 for Malays, down from 1.82 in 2009; and 1.13 for Indians, down from 1.14.

    In remarks that MM Lee released to the media ahead of the dialogue, which was conducted in Mandarin and English, he said: 'So we need young immigrants. Otherwise, our economy will slow down, like the Japanese economy. We will have a less dynamic and less thriving Singapore. This is not the future for our children and grandchildren.'

    Hence, the need to welcome immigrants and help them integrate into mainstream Singapore society.

    Mr Lee said: 'The first generation will take some time to integrate, but their children will be completely Singaporean.

    'I have met some such students in our schools: They serve national service and marry Singaporeans. They will increase our population and talent pool. Singapore will be vibrant and prosperous, not declining and ageing.'

    The Government understood the concerns some Singaporeans had about competition from new immigrants, he said.

    It had taken steps to slow the inflow of immigrants and foreign workers, and sharpened the distinction between citizens and non-citizens - providing benefits and perks for citizens which the others do not enjoy.

    Mr Lee noted that one key thrust that the SFCCA had set for itself was to help new immigrants integrate. Its recent move to bring new immigrant groups under its umbrella was 'a step in the right direction'.

    'Clan associations could serve as catalysts to help bring the local Chinese community and new immigrants closer together through social and cultural activities,' he said, adding that the Government would support such efforts.

    In particular, new immigrants must get help to master the English language, which they need to succeed here, he said.

    Last night's dinner and dialogue was attended by more than 1,300 Chinese clan association members and guests, including Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong.

    The 45-minute dialogue was moderated by Mrs Josephine Teo, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

    During the session, Mr Lee fielded questions on how Chinese clans in Singapore can grow and play an important role in nurturing a group of bicultural Singaporeans to engage a rising China, strengthening business links between the countries and helping Chinese immigrants here to integrate.

    MM Lee said today's Chinese immigrants were different from earlier ones who came mainly from southern China and were mostly labourers in search of work and a better life.

    'They now come from the north, or north of the Yangtze, as well. They are better educated and they offer us a greater pool of talent,' he added.

    In response to lawyer Hee Theng Fong, a council member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who asked how the industry and self-sacrifice of first generation Chinese migrants could be passed down to later generations, he replied with the Chinese saying, 'shi shi zao ying xiong', meaning heroes surfaced out of circumstances.

    Times have changed, he said, and today's young did not undergo the same problems and difficulties Singapore faced in the past.

    SFCCA chairman Chua Thian Poh told the gathering that the federation had received around $4.5 million in donations, including US$20,000 (S$25,800) from the China Overseas Exchange Association, presented through the Chinese Embassy here.

    The federation will be setting up a databank to help members network with one another.

    It will also be offering five undergraduate scholarships each year for Singaporean students to study in top universities in China.

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    welcome immigrants flood gate to open. the property sentiments is in such healthy state so it make more sense to invest during this window of opportunity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rattydrama
    welcome immigrants flood gate to open. the property sentiments is in such healthy state so it make more sense to invest during this window of opportunity.
    So much for 'monitoring' immigration right? Can immigrants buy HDBs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by reuters
    So much for 'monitoring' immigration right? Can immigrants buy HDBs?
    sure once they turn PRs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rattydrama
    sure once they turn PRs.
    But it will take awhile before they can become 'permanent' right? In the meantime, are they allowed to buy private property?

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    Quote Originally Posted by reuters
    But it will take awhile before they can become 'permanent' right? In the meantime, are they allowed to buy private property?
    sure they can buy private property if they meet certain condition. Again, if they cannot afford, rental is the next option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rattydrama
    sure they can buy private property if they meet certain condition. Again, if they cannot afford, rental is the next option.
    But we will want skilled immigrants right? So perhaps more highly-paid foreign workers coming our way. Won't they be able to afford buying small properties?

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    The recent curb is to attract FT!?

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    Quote Originally Posted by reuters
    But we will want skilled immigrants right? So perhaps more highly-paid foreign workers coming our way. Won't they be able to afford buying small properties?
    Looks like this will be the direction government wants. In those days, any one and any how, approval is loose as the objective is to meet the 6.5m target. And its derail the social cohesiveness and at one point some felt that Singapore is no longer Singapore. ahaa


    I see expect they comes with load of cash and some even sell away their grand father land just to have a space in SG, for kids and better pay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ymgsterling
    The recent curb is to attract FT!?
    probably pave the way........?

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